Monday, October 03, 2011

A D.I.Y. Halloween YARD HAUNT!

 By Rania

For me, it is THE best holiday of all holidays. 
I have a love for theatrical effect, lighting and sets, especially combined with the beauty of horror.
 It is mysterious and dark and twisted and awesome. 
For the last decade i have been accumulating a Halloween inventory that i managed to build up while decorating nightclubs for annual Halloween parties. Once i left the nightclub industry, i thought i would put it to good use doing Yard Haunts. A few years ago, i started doing a small Yard Haunt for the trick-or-treaters which then blossomed into my, now, annual life project - The Haunted Garden, which is a High End Backyard Haunt, Exhibit & Attraction. 
Right now, the Haunted Garden is in production and opens October 21, 2011. I have been recording and documenting the production thus far - so look out for the making of it, as it will be filled with tons of great Halloween D.I.Y. stuff.
 In the meantime, i thought i would share my pictures from my previous year's Yard Haunts at my old house in Frederick, MD as well as advice on how to make it all come together just right. The neighborhood loves it, and the kids are either amazed or frightened {which are both great reactions} but i will warn you, buy extra candy! You will get lots of visitors on Halloween!
The first things you need are props. There are 2 ways to go about props. The affordable way by going to Spirit Halloween {#1 source}, Party City and other random Halloween outlet stores or the super duper expensive way {going to Halloween conventions and purchasing from high end theater companies}. I hope to start doing the super duper expensive way in the next few years as i am exploring the idea of going into the Haunted House industry on a much more professional level.

Spirit Halloween offers animated props, hanging props, small props, large props, accessories, costumes, you name it, it's there for a somewhat reasonable price. Party City offers a much smaller inventory, but i have found some real treasures there. Buy online ahead of time or be like me and go shopping last minute {which can work out in your favor when you score major deals the last week before Halloween}
This particular Yard Haunt took me about 2 days to setup. That large Goblin Witch thing hanging from my house is about 12' tall. I hung her from my 2nd floor window. I got that Goblin at Home Goods 5 years ago. That was kind of a rare find though. The skeleton on the right is hanging from the tree. 
Another spooky skeleton hanging from my old Crab Apple Tree. So fitting. Ahhhh i love Autumn. 
This evil Exorcist like woman has been in my inventory forever. I THINK i got her at Party City. She is so spooky. I flanked 2 props on each side of my front door to set a presence to the Trick or Treaters. 
To get your kids involved, first go get a bunch of pumpkins, because pumpkins are like bubbles. All kids love them. These can vary greatly in price. Just look around for deals, especially on the big pumpkins, as they can be charged by the pound. You can carve them into Jack-O-Lanterns freehand or by using Pumpkin Carving Kits. Either way, they are a staple for any Yard Haunt.
These are cheap and full of impact ; ranging from $7-$20. I have some body parts laying around cause i kill zombies on the side, so i stuck the hands in the ground for added effect. The light you see is, well, for the evening illumination{which is the most important part of bringing your Haunt to life}. 

The best ways to achieve quick, inexpensive lighting effects are from flame cauldrons, tiki torches, strobe lights, homemade uplights and Blacklights. Flame cauldrons work really well in front of tombstones as they create beautiful up-light , but even better hanging from the hands of props. It brings life to the creatures and illuminates their faces and upper bodies. The Halloween Trees you see behind the tombstones were purchased at Target. They too have a somewhat decent supply of decor. Nothing on a large scale though. 
Overall, it requires a bit of $$, time, labor and more than anything, a love for the art of Halloween. 

Supplies for a Small D.I.Y Yard Haunt
Props {skeletons, goblins, witches}
Body Parts
Flaming Cauldrons
Black Lights
Tiki Torches
Red Flood Lights {make your own from Home Depot}
Spider Web {both regular and U.V. sensitive which can be used to create the illusion of water}
Fog Machines
Extension Cords {like tons of them}
Fishing Line{for hanging cauldrons from props or whenever you don't want to see the line}
Black Tie Line {theater supply houses}
Gaffer Tape {theater supply houses or online}
Random accessories {skeleton head yard stakes, illuminated trees, lamp posts, crows, skulls, candles, chains, there is a world of amazing stuff online}
Haunted Sound Effects, Ipod and speakers {for the full effect}
Now, that i am on to bigger and badder Yard Haunts, i will share some pictures of last year's First Annual Haunted Garden. Look out for the making of the 2011 Haunted Garden - coming in November. It's only going to get crazier and scarier each year!
The Haunted Garden opens October 21, 2011 from 7-10pm in Silver Spring, MD
For More info visit
To see the production in progress as we prepare for opening night, LIKE us on FACEBOOK!


Rob said...

From one home haunter to another, you have a very fun looking haunt!

Rob - Head Gravekeeper of Lost Lake Cemetery


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